By Jay Betsill
The Houston Texans Training Camp presented by XFINITY gets underway on Aug. 1 as the Texans take to the field inside the Houston Methodist Training Center in preparation for the upcoming 2015 season. This year’s camp will be about more than just football as the Texans will be the featured team on HBO’s Hard Knocks this season.
The biggest question going into the Texans camp on the offensive side is who will win the starting quarterback job. The competition between Ryan Mallett and Brian Hoyer — both former backups to Tom Brady in New England — will hinge on not on who makes the biggest plays but who does a better job of protecting the ball. Hoyer had a little success last year as the starter with the Cleveland Browns in spite of the hype surrounding his backup, Johnny Manziel. Mallett has logged 75 passes in his NFL career that included two games last season with the Texans before he was injured. Running back Arian Foster remains the one constant on a unit that bid farewell to veteran wide receiver Andre Johnson and center Chris Myers.
On the defensive side, after 11 years and two Super Bowl championships with the New England Patriots, defensive lineman Vince Wilfork joins a unit that already includes J.J. Watt and Brian Cushing. The biggest question mark on defense remains the health of former No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney. Following two knee surgeries last season, Clowney begins training camp on the physically unable to perform list, but a significant contribution from the outside linebacker is vital to the Texans success this year.
“I think all of us can’t wait to see him back out there and see what he can do,” Texans defensive end J.J. Watt told ESPN.com. “He obviously has a lot of great potential, and we hope he realizes that potential. However we can help him, we’re going to try and help him realize it.”
Following last season’s seven-game improvement (9-7, 2nd in the AFC South) under head coach Bill O’Brien, the buzz around NRG Stadium for the Texans’ 14th season should be at a fever pitch.
For fans in the Houston area, six training camp practice sessions will be open to the public at the Houston Methodist Training Center: Sat.-Mon., Aug. 1-3; Tues.-Weds., Aug. 11-12 and Weds., Aug. 19. Free tickets can be printed from HoustonTexans.com with a limit of four per person, per practice while supplies last.